Tampa Bay Rays manager Joe Maddon argues after Derek Jeter is given first base after faking being hit by a pitch.
Baseball has been called America’s pastime for upwards of 130 years now and has come a long way. A game once played with sticks and stones is now being played in 50,000 seat venues with millions of fans watching at home on crystal clear HDTV being able to see every play in stunning detail, and as with any sport including football, basketball, and hockey there are many close plays. Officials in other sports have used the technology available now in the 21st century to get so many critical calls right (some still debatable even after replay), and yet baseball has for some reason not seen the immense value to a game’s integrity that instant replay can provide when reviewing close calls.
A traditionalist would tell you that blown calls are simply a part of baseball, but isn’t there so much more to the game’s tradition then an umpire making a mistake? There is no reason why longtime fans should be upset with umpires being able to review and correct their mistakes. They just need to enjoy everything that makes baseball great and not approve of its most glaring flaw. Show me one fan that is able to put up with an umpire’s mistakes and I will show you one that is not passionate enough about a great game to be considered more than a casual observer. How is it acceptable for blown calls to be continually allowed after TV’s around the country and scoreboards at games can instantly show an umpire’s mistake? Well let me tell you, it’s not.
A lot of people can say that baseball is boring and that replay would only drag out and slow down an already long contest. Yet not many people complain when football action is stopped for a few minutes to get a call right from the replay booth. Even umpire Joe West criticized the Yankees and Red Sox of dragging their games out too long and that was without instant replay. But wouldn’t instant replay have been useful for when Jim Joyce blew a call in the ninth inning that cost Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga a perfect game? What about all the times a players hits a fair line drive up the first and third base lines and an umpire calls it foul? Now, I am not trying to call umpires villains that take baseball’s integrity away with mistaken rulings or missing plays that happen in the blink of an eye but I am sure that any umpire would say that their job is to call games fairly and accurately and that it would not hurt to have a little help from instant replay when in doubt. That seems perfectly reasonable and it is hard to see why Major League Baseball could not understand that.
The most embarrassing off the field argument that Major League Baseball is having to put up with now is that the Little League World Series is allowing more expanded instant replay this year and even manager challenges. Little League! Replay rules that resemble ideas in the National Football League is a great idea and it is good to see that they are being put into place in Williamsport but how could Major League Baseball honestly not catch onto it before a tournament with twelve year olds did? MLB is considered the foremost league in the world when it comes to talent and innovation, yet the Little League World Series beats them in the instant replay rules race. If I worked in the MLB commissioner’s office in New York, I would be embarrassed by this development. Instant replay needs to come to the professional baseball level.
There are too many missed calls that are always allowed in baseball that a simple replay is always able to show right after the play happens. And when the MLB brass is beaten to the punch by the Little League World Series for using replay, it is just flat out embarrassing. America’s pastime is already dealing with steroids, why should blown calls hinder it too? The integrity of a great sport needs to be ensured and the solution to that is instant replay.